One count on which I almost always find myself to be an outlier in India is my opinion that the Nobel Prizes and their derivatives belong in the gutter. But while many people in other countries share this opinion of the Nobel Prizes, and often put their weight behind advancing this view, there are very […]

A woman slightly hidden from view, wearing a denim jacket, brushing her hand against a wooden facade in daylight.

Borders are often a bad thing because they create separation that is unconducive for what are generally considered to be socially desirable outcomes. And they’re often instituted to maximise political outcomes, especially of the electoral variety. However, as electoral politics – and the decisions politicians make leading up to elections – become increasingly divisive, the […]

A close-up photograph of Freeman Dyson.

The physicist, thinker and writer Freeman Dyson passed away on February 28, 2020, at the age of 96. I wrote his obituary for The Wire Science; excerpt: The 1965 Nobel Prize for the development of [quantum electrodynamics] excluded Dyson. … If this troubled Dyson, it didn’t show; indeed, anyone who knew him wouldn’t have expected […]

People at a rally in Gwalior, 2007. Credit: Ekta Parishad/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Don’t politicise X” has become the defence of choice for a class of scientists and public intellectuals in India whose class and caste privilege utterly blinds them to various inequities in the practice of science – as privilege is wont to do – and who labour with the presumption that these inequities, should they miraculously […]

There’s a line from The Two Towers (2002) that’s really stayed with me: I’m on nobody’s side because nobody is on my side. It’s spoken by Treebeard, the Ent, to one of Meriadoc/Peregrin when asked whose side he was on: Saruman’s or the Fellowship’s. At first glance, it seems a fair answer because nobody has […]

There’s a line from The Two Towers (2002) that’s really stayed with me: I’m on nobody’s side because nobody is on my side. It’s spoken by Treebeard, the Ent, to one of Meriadoc/Peregrin when asked whose side he was on: Saruman’s or the Fellowship’s. At first glance, it seems a fair answer because nobody has […]

What follows is an attempt to process and understand Cassandra Willyard’s post on Last Word on Nothing, about her preferring the humanised stories of science over the stories of the science itself (“Physics writers, this is how you nab the physics haters — human emotion”; my previous post on this is here). He words have […]